“Better Together”: Pharmacy Students, Faculty Help Out After Tornadoes

By Benjamin Waldrum

Donning ball caps and tool belts, pharmacy students and faculty arrived at homes affected by the tornado to pitch in, cutting up fallen trees, picking up debris, putting tarps over damaged roofs, and handing out water and food.

A strong storm system swept through Arkansas on March 31, spawning EF3 tornadoes that heavily damaged areas of Little Rock, North Little Rock, Sherwood, Jacksonville and Wynne. The storms killed five people and injured dozens more. About 120 homes were destroyed and 1,700 more were damaged. At least 75,000 Arkansans were without power, some for more than a week.

Several students and faculty members were affected, said Ashok Philip, Ph.D., associate dean of student services, with some receiving significant damage to their homes and cars.

COP students debris

Students helped cut up and clear away debris across homes in Little Rock.Ashok Philip

In the aftermath, a few students have traveled to be with family and help out with cleanup efforts, and others are attending classes virtually. Everyone displaced from their homes now has a place to stay, Philip said, either at a hotel or with family and friends.

“I am beyond proud and thankful for our pharmacy students who took the time to serve the Little Rock community devastated by the tornado,” he said.

Once the storms passed, students and faculty were in close communication, making sure everyone was all right. As needs arose, they quickly came up with a plan to assist.

“The moment the tornado occurred, our college looked for every possible way to help,” said Rilie Vote, a second-year pharmacy student. “It was an opportunity to come together as a community and help those in need. It was great to see all of us together making a difference during a difficult time.”

Rebuilding homes and lives will take time, and more service trips are planned. For now, everyone is wrapping their arms around each other and doing what they can. The amount of support has made a strong impression.

“This was an amazing experience for me and my fellow classmates because we were able to help people in such a good way,” said Nicholas Hollowell, a second-year pharmacy student.

Hollowell said his parents and grandmother pitched in as well. “We decided that since we were not affected by the tornado, we should go out and help those who were affected,” he said. “The motto that I stand on is ‘better together,’ and I believe we have become better together as a community.”